Alistair Mcdowall’s newest arrival All of it appears in a trilogy of 30-minute poems alongside Northleigh 1940 and In Stereo. All three were written for and excellently performed by Kate O’Flynn.
Commencing with Northleigh 1940, we meet a woman trapped in a small room during an air raid. Vicky Featherstone’s direction is highly effective in encouraging a claustrophobic atmosphere as O’Flynn finds herself squashed into an Anderson shelter with her father. Mcdowall’s poem, inspired by a census of his house, finds some playful elements as the unnamed character squabbles pettily with their father during an extraordinary circumstance.
After a moment’s pause to take in the stream of consciousness from the first poem, In Stereo approaches the poetic form from another angle. Inspired by Mcdowall’s experience of lockdown with his family, In Stereo navigates the intense exploration of the immediate circumstances of the small bedroom that O’Flynn finds herself in, having a strange relationship with the mould on the wallpaper before metaphysically becoming the wall and negotiating a whole existential stream of consciousness that a wall could quite possibly be observing.
Another few moments of light up while the stage is shuffled around, and the audience try to catch up with another incredible splurge of monologue from O’Flynn, leads us into the final poem; All of it. Mcdowall and O’Flynn take us on a real journey with similarities to Gecko Theatre’s The Time of Your Life but in a condensed and more intimate affair. Featherstone has O’Flynn in what feels like a book-reading or poetry open-mic night set up. O’Flynn expertly navigates Mcdowall’s experience of life with emphasis on “everyone dies” and “drive to work” as O’Flynn finds herself in an existential realisation.
The combination of Mcdowall’s poems with potent experiential content; Vicky Featherstone’s simple but effective direction; and Kate O’Flynn’s intense but incredibly emotional connection, creates a recipe for a highly thought-provoking and human 90-minute experience.
It runs until 17 June.
Review: Sebastian Calver Photo: Manuel Harlan